Kevin Hughes stands near the Yummy Box Food Truck after picking up his order of chicken stir fry on Friday afternoon in Everett. “I got off the bus and my nose led me here,” Hughes said. Three Snohomish County-based food trucks will share a space near the Everett Performing Arts Center each Friday at lunch time as part of a year-long pilot project with the city. (Ian Terry / The Herald)

Everett testing downtown food trucks for Friday lunch crowd

EVERETT — Three food trucks pulled into the driveway next to the Everett Performing Arts Center on Friday and opened for business.

That’s a first for Everett. While food trucks can show up occasionally and the annual Food Truck Festival takes over a block of Colby Avenue for a day, the city is experimenting with a dedicated spot for the trucks on a weekly basis.

The three trucks are technically on parks property, city spokeswoman Meghan Pembroke said, just south of the performing arts center.

A small lunch crowd gathered between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Gael Fisk, a city public works employee, was with six other colleagues enjoying a day without rain as she ate her California burrito from the Vet Chef.

She’d been to Portland, where a full city block is turned over to many vendors daily.

“To see some of this come in to Everett, I’m excited about it,” Fisk said.

Lori Johnson, the executive director of the Washington Food Truck Association, said Portland and Seattle’s scenes were the inspiration to set up a dedicated space in Everett.

“That’s what we’re trying to duplicate, in a short, small version in downtown Everett,” Johnson said.

The plan is to have two or three trucks in the same location every Friday for the downtown lunch crowd for about a year, she said.

The association, a nonprofit trade group representing about 100 vendors, will solicit comments from the public through their Facebook page.

Last week the three vendors were the Vet Chef, Cathouse Pizza and Yummy Box, which served a variety of Asian dishes.

Kyle Gourlie, a former Marine and Iraq War veteran, has been running the Vet Chef for a year and a half, serving up southern California and Mexican-style entrees.

“I used my GI bill to go to culinary school, and after that went right into it,” he said.

Gourlie said his wife handles bookkeeping, while his only full-time employee, Paul Welling, a 20-year Navy veteran, worked the grill Friday.

He’s driven the Vet Chef truck all over Snohomish and King counties, including the Monroe and Snohomish farmer’s markets. Marketing is all word-of-mouth, he said.

“They contact us and we try to go there,” he said.

Danielle Aernie, of Whidbey Island, was visiting her mother in Everett with her two daughters, Ellie, 6, and Kyra, 4. They heard about the trucks from the Live in Everett website and came down with a couple of her mother’s friends.

The two girls each got a piece of cheese pizza.

Asked how they liked it, both girls said, “Good.”

“I have a lot of dolls,” Kyra added.

After the pilot project, it will be up to the city if it wants to allow the concentration of trucks to continue, Johnson said.

“It’s a really good way to revitalize dead-ended or underserved areas, or maybe areas (where) they just want to bring more foot traffic,” she said.

Chris Winters: 4 25-374-4165; Twitter: @Chris_At_Herald.

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